South African swimmer Roland Schoeman has said his remarks at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi did not have racial overtones after he described a noisy member of the crowd as a “monkey”.
In response to crowd noise that saw him nearly disqualified from the 50m freestyle race, the eventual silver medallist told Australia’s media that it was an “absolute disgrace” that some spectators were allowed to make so much noise at the start.
Games Officials later said the quotes were incorrectly reported by Australian media but they did make their stance on racism clear.
Michael Fennell, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation said “As far as the Commonwealth Games Federation is concerned and myself in particular, we do not tolerate any sort racial slurs or abusive behaviour or just improper conduct, that is not something we condone. But we would be less …if we said we could stop all of it, it happens all over the world and we have to control it and take action where appropriate.
South African officials have cleared the swimmer of any breach of conduct and stand firmly behind the former Olympic gold medalist, who did later explain in South Africa the use of the word ‘monkey’ in that context means hooligan.